Arsenal are now facing an inexplicable battle to ensure a top four finish, and their latest test sees them take on a West Bromwich Albion side that has taken only one point from their last four Premier League outings.
It must be incredibly frustrating to be an Arsenal supporter at this moment in time. Their team continues to flatter to deceive and lack the killer instinct to be in the title reckoning, while the sight of bitter rivals Tottenham lying above them in the table and showing all the characteristics of a top-drawer outfit will only intensify their sense of disquiet.
There is increasing doubt over whether Arsene Wenger is still the right man to lead the club, and while it may come a hard truth for some, the Frenchman does have to take his share of the responsibility for many of his side’s shortcomings this season. It has promised so much, but has delivered so little.
The game against Crystal Palace on Sunday was another instance where points were dropped in almost customary circumstances. Their total domination of the play counted for little as they lacked the cutting edge to grab the vital second goal and eventually allowed their opponents in for an equaliser. Confidence is low and there appears to be a lack of a winning mentality.
Although they would be very keen to end their slight dip in results that has arisen since the international break, there is next to no pressure on West Brom as they approach the first match of their North London double header.
They will be typically compact and tough to beat, a style that Arsenal have had problems against many a time this term, but on the other hand Tony Pulis will allow his team to play with the freedom of a team that has done enough to secure survival. It was a similar story in their last away match at Manchester City, where their performance was worthy of at least a point.
Since then they have endured the disappointment of losing at home to Watford, a game which they controlled for long periods and saw two penalties saved. Saido Berahino was the fall guy on both occasions and was booed by the club’s supporters, but he is still a quality striker and will pose a real threat to the Gunners here.
Mathieu Flamini is likely to return for Arsenal, but they remain without Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere.
James Morrison and Chris Brunt are still unavailable for West Brom, who still have doubts over on-loan winger Alex Pritchard.
Last Meeting: A stunning first half performance by Arsenal saw them to a convincing win over West Brom on the final day of last season. It was 3-0 after 17 minutes as Theo Walcott netted twice after fine interplay and Jack Wilshere crashed home a brilliant shot. Walcott completed his hat-trick before half-time, while Gareth McAuley got a consolation for the visitors, heading beyond David Ospina.
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